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A Guide to Doulas: Why to Get One and Where to Find One in Philly
For when expecting and new parents want a range of support — before, during, and after birth.
“I’m New at This” is Be Well Philly’s series for new and soon-to-be parents. This educational resource covers the ins and outs of prepping for the arrival of a little one and taking care of them — and yourself — with insight and advice from local experts. Tips featured in “I’m New at This” are recommendations, and we believe in pursuing methods and approaches that work best for your unique family. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Email Be Well editor Laura Brzyski at Lbrzyski@phillymag.com.
They say it takes a village to not only bring a child into this world, but to support parents on their new journey, as well. That’s why many birthing folks today hire a doula, or a professional birth guide who coaches, guides, and advocates for soon-to-be parents before and during pregnancy, and supports their physical, mental, and emotional health following delivery.
Take it from Eunice D., a South Jersey resident and mom of two children under seven years old. She was motivated to have an unmedicated birth her first time around — “If my grandmother who had 10 children could do it, why couldn’t I?” she tells me — and found support from Heartfelt Hands Birth Services. “I wanted the energy in my birth room to not be overpowered by medical protocol, unless intervention was required,” she says. “Having a doula also benefited my postpartum period. Mine came to my home, helped tidy up my place after I was released from the hospital, showed me how to pump, and reassured me that the amount I was giving my daughter was enough.”
Positive sentiments are echoed by Christine Regan, a resident of Wilmington, Delaware and mom of a 13-month-old. She says hiring a doula was the best decision she made during her pregnancy: “It was like having someone on my team who knew everything about the process. She helped me try different positions and tactics [during labor], and never left my side. I also had specific pain-management goals that she helped me hit with non-medicine intervention, and she was such a calming presence for me and my husband.”
It’s important to note that a doula, though certified and trained, is not a medical professional. That means a doula doesn’t deliver babies or provide medical care like a midwife would. That said, there’s evidence that a doula’s presence can reduce the need for medical intervention, result in a shorter labor, improve maternal health outcomes (and reduce racial disparities associated with them), and yield a more positive birth experience.
Though this isn’t a comprehensive list of every doula in the Philly area (but we did include a lot!), the ones below strive to make soon-to-be parents’ birthing experiences and immediate postpartum journeys as smooth as possible. Bonus: Many were recommended to us by local parents themselves.
After the Stork
Founded in 2006, After the Stork provides daytime and overnight support for new parents, thanks to its nearly 20 certified postpartum doulas. The team’s most-requested service is nighttime support, including tidying up your home and taking care of your newborn while you get some much-needed rest.
Birth With Purpose
Birth With Purpose’s mission is to “improve birth outcomes and eliminate racial health inequities among Black women and birthing people.” To do so, founder and doula Nia Coaxum Morgan provides virtual and in-person support, like prenatal visits/meetings, birth planning, and postpartum sessions.
Blessed Beginnings recognizes every family is different, and therefore, provides personalized doula services that will reflect your unique birthing experience. From early stages of pregnancy to delivery and coming home, you’ll feel supported every step of the way.
You’re in fantastic hands with Blossoming Bellies’ Brittany Sharpe McCollum, who is a certified childbirth educator, birth doula, breastfeeding counselor, and lactation counselor. In addition to doula services, McCollum offers self-paced, live-streamed, and in-person birthing classes, plus sessions about infant care, supporting your pelvic floor, and feeding your little one.
Born With Love
Born With Love has a strong focus on lactation support, but you can also invest in daytime and nighttime postpartum doula care. You’ll get services like infant-care basics, meal prep, light housework, diaper changes, and feeding help.
Christine’s Care & Compassion
Founder Christine Golcher has been locally recognized several times as one of the region’s best doulas — and for good reason. She offers in-person and virtual postpartum services, daytime care for your newborn, help with breastfeeding, and a number of classes to help prepare you (and your loved ones!) for baby’s arrival.
With over a dozen doulas on staff, Connected Transitions aims to make sure every one of its clients is fully empowered through the birthing journey. Opt for services that run from early stages of pregnancy to immediate postpartum, or support for just after your newborn’s arrival. The team also offers on-call and hourly sibling care, plus sleep coaching.
Debbie the Doula
As a certified birth doula and trained postpartum doula, Debbie Mangel has been assisting folks’ birth experiences for over a decade. Her services include prenatal visits, birth-plan guidance, unlimited email and phone support, presence (and sometimes acupressure!) during labor and delivery, and a postpartum visit.
Michelle “Belle” Washington is multi-hyphenate doula, meaning she’s trained in many areas of the birth journey, like fertility, postpartum, prenatal and infant loss (PAIL), hypnosis, and abortion. Washington offers three different packages for families interested in hiring a doula — from her Essential that includes four prenatal and three postpartum visits to premium services that cover the gamut.
Doulas of Philadelphia
Doulas of Philadelphia supports new parents across the region by matching them with a location- and need-appropriate postpartum doula team. They provide daytime and overnight care, as well as virtual support and sleep-training guidance.
This organization is mainly focused on labor and delivery — think emotional, physical, and informational help before and during birth. (They have a four-hour comprehensive childbirth class!) Embrace Doulas also offers an at-home visit within two weeks of baby’s arrival.
Inner Circle Midwifery
Based in Germantown, Inner Circle Midwifery has — in addition to midwives — a team of seven certified doulas. Your doula will meet with you at least twice during your pregnancy, be with you during labor and delivery, and provide postpartum emotional and educational guidance.
Joyful Start in Glenside offers daytime postpartum support, a virtual “You’ve Got This” postpartum bundle of services, prenatal consultations, and help with your baby registry. Plus, founder Kelly Kolb runs in-home group and private classes on newborn care, breastfeeding, comprehensive childbirth education, and first aid.
Lemonlife Doula & Birthing Services
Founder and certified doula MaryNissi Lemon has been in the biz for over six years — and became a doula after her own birth experience. Hire her as your birth doula or postpartum doula (inclusive of five, three-hour visits), or for personalized sessions.
Little Miracles Doula Services
Under the direction of certified birth doula and trained postpartum doula Kyra Lanae, Little Miracles offers private in-home prep classes (plus free virtual ones!), birthing guidance, prenatal and postpartum doula services, nursery organization, and sibling care. You can also opt for a private postpartum party as you celebrate parenthood with your loved ones, while Little Miracles takes care of the rest.
Main Line Doulas
Main Line Doulas has an array of services for every step of your birth experience. From childbirth education classes while you’re pregnant to postpartum doula care (including overnight help!) and nutrition counseling, this team will make sure you have an enjoyable and as much of a stress-free journey as possible.
Mama Tree Doula
Founder Troi Lauren is a full-spectrum wellness doula with in-person and virtual services, plus birth-ball classes and pre/postnatal yoga. For birth support, expect prenatal meetings focused on childbirth education, while postpartum services include breastfeeding support and newborn care.
Maternity Care Coalition
The mission of this Philly nonprofit is to “improve the health and well-being of pregnant women and parenting families,” especially those living in areas with high rates of poverty, infant and maternal mortality, and general health disparities. Its community-based breastfeeding and doula program provides free lactation counselors and culturally connected doulas to residents in North Philly and beyond.
Nested Birth Doula
Mount Airy-based doula Meg Mauger provides virtual birth support for expecting parents, as well as in-person, sliding-scale postpartum services like sleep assistance, herbalism-focused cooking, housekeeping, and sibling care.
Northern Star Doula
Founder Nicole Sawyers Todd serves as a birth doula and offers overnight postpartum and newborn care to new and expectant families. She is also registered as a hypno-doula, achieving peaceful birthing and relaxation through hypnosis. As a postpartum doula, she can help with breastfeeding support, bottle-feeding responsibilities at night, guidance through recovery and family adjustment, and — perhaps most importantly — helping you get some sleep!
Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support
Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support (PALS) is a birth-focused nonprofit started in 1998 by nursing students from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, its trained doulas provide free on-call services to those delivering at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and the organization has a no-cost prenatal match program for expecting parents. PALS also runs training twice per year for anyone interested in becoming a doula.
Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Doula Support Program
The city’s public health department has its own doula support program, which offers free prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum (up to 12 months) services to expecting and new parents. It mainly serves local families with a history of substance use, complex medical needs, who are involved with the child welfare and/or criminal legal systems, or who are experiencing housing insecurity.
Philadelphia Doula Care + Parenting Education
Since 2007, postpartum doula and childbirth educator Maria Pyanov has been assisting parents across the region in navigating birth and beyond. She also offers sleep coaching and group/private/virtual childbirth classes, and has two other doulas on her team.
Hana Grace Lehmann is a full-spectrum birthworker who provides reproductive support for those navigating birth, the postpartum period, miscarriage, and abortion, plus birth photography. Lehmann also offers solo and group classes on topics like having a confident labor and delivery, VBAC, and bringing baby home.
Philly Doula Co-Op
This local network of certified birth professionals will support you in pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. In 2017, Philly Doula Co-op launched a financial accessibility grant system to help provide $200 to reduce the cost of birth support or postpartum doula services for those who qualify for federal health assistance; one percent of each doula’s support fees goes towards that grant.
Philly Queer Doula Collective
The Philly Queer Doula Collective is a group of birth professionals committed to supporting queer and trans individuals through birth in a way that uplifts and affirms their unique experience and bodily autonomy. You can read more about the individual doulas here, and view their ever-growing resource list of everything from support groups to specialized care.
The Saye Birth Doula
Jasha Buckery, a.k.a. the Saye Birth Doula, is certified to provide both in-person and virtual birth and postpartum doula services on an income-based sliding scale. Her inspiration comes from witnessing her sister’s traumatic birth experience and realizing the need for birthing people to have medical advocacy and support. She “wanted to define the birth space in a new way for others,” and so her prenatal care focuses on strengthening the mind and body, with a focus on shadow work.
You may have heard of Sitter Select as a great resource for finding childcare — from a last-minute babysitter to a long-term nanny — but they recently added postpartum doula services to their roster. They’ll help provide education about your newborn, assist with care (including meal prep, cleaning and family adjustment), and can help refer you to additional parenting resources.
Well Born Baby Doula Services
This Havertown-based team of certified birth and postpartum doulas, childbirth educators and lactation consultants will support you in preparing for your birth, labor and beyond. If you’re planning a hospital birth, they’ll help you create a birth plan, pack your go-bag, and facilitate communication with medical staff. They also provide group prenatal support meetings, one-on-ones, and postpartum services like breastfeeding support, errands, light housekeeping, sibling care, baby basics and infant massage.
From prenatal prep classes (in-person and virtual) to one-on-one check-ins to the actual birthing process, Womb-Ish is there for you every step of the way — including unlimited phone, text and email accessibility. Your birth doula will join in on your active laboring and stay by your side throughout the birthing process.